06/01/2016 / By JD Heyes
You may have had doubts before about claims that Facebook was “manipulating” its massive audience behind the scenes, but you should cast those doubts aside for good following reports earlier this week that the social media behemoth has been doing precisely that.
As reported by The Daily Caller News Foundation, a former Facebook news curator has admitted to influencing the very popular “trending” news section, infusing politically Leftist content while purposefully censoring out conservative news even if the latter truly was trending and the inserted content was not.
For example, some of the curators – who were not named – told Gizmodo that content about “Black Lives Matter” would often be inserted into the influential trending feed, while content pertaining to conservative political group CPAC, former GOP presidential contenders Mitt Romney and Rand Paul, and other conservative topics were intentionally suppressed.
In some cases, the curator – who is politically conservative – said, topics and stories they were told to inject weren’t trending at all.
As further noted by Gizmodo:
In other words, Facebook’s news section operates like a traditional newsroom, reflecting the biases of its workers and the institutional imperatives of the corporation. Imposing human editorial values onto the lists of topics an algorithm spits out is by no means a bad thing—but it is in stark contrast to the company’s claims that the trending module simply lists “topics that have recently become popular on Facebook.”
Of the manipulation, said one curator, “I believe it had a chilling effect on conservative news.”
Earlier, Gizmodo reported that this small group of young journalists, educated primarily at Ivy League or private East Coast universities, were given access to ranked lists of trending topics that were selected by Facebook’s algorithm, which is used to prioritize stories that are shown to Facebook users in the trending section. Launched in 2014, it amounts to some of the Internet’s most powerful real estate and helps dictate what Facebook’s users are reading and thinking at any time, including the 167 million or so in the U.S. alone.
“Depending on who was on shift, things would be blacklisted or trending,” said the curator, one of a small group of curators who are politically conservative. “I’d come on shift and I’d discover that CPAC or Mitt Romney or Glenn Beck or popular conservative topics wouldn’t be trending because either the curator didn’t recognize the news topic or it was like they had a bias against Ted Cruz.”
The curator began keeping a list of the topics that were squelched; they included the late Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, popular conservative news aggregator the Drudge Report, and former Fox News contributor Steven Crowder.
Another former curator agreed, Gizmodo reported, that the curation operation shuns conservative news sources.
“It was absolutely bias. We were doing it subjectively. It just depends on who the curator is and what time of day it is,” said the former curator. “Every once in awhile a Red State or conservative news source would have a story. But we would have to go and find the same story from a more neutral outlet that wasn’t as biased.”
As for Wikipedia, consumer advocate Tim Bolen thinks there may be more behind the financial workings of the site than meets the eye, and that, he says, could be one reason why much of the information contained on its pages is little more than corporate clap-trap and mainstream mantra, especially when it comes to medicine and healthcare.
[I]f we discover what I think we will find in the “contributors” list, we will find that Wikipedia is strictly a PR firm, operating a PsyOps black operation against those that economically compete against Wikipedia’s “contributor’s” interests. And THAT would change Wikipedia’s TAX STATUS, from Non-Profit, back to FOR PROFIT. Wikipedia would be forced to pay full income taxes ALL THE WAY BACK to its start-up. And, THAT would destroy it.
Read Bolen’s full column here.